Delivering healthy babies at Yongsan

OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- After nine months of pregnancy, every mother and father wishes for the birth of a healthy baby. Both the mother and her healthcare provider contribute to the baby's health before the big day arrives. It's the mother's responsibility to make sure she eats nutritious foods, exercises and gets regular prenatal check-ups. Her healthcare provider is responsible for ensuring the pregnancy is progressing normally through professional examinations, laboratory and radiology testing and patient education. The responsibility shared by the mother and provider is ensuring access to the appropriate level of health care. The 51st Medical Group is able to provide health care for pregnant women, using a three-tiered method.

In the first tier, the 51st MDG provides routine prenatal care for low-risk pregnant women up to 36 weeks gestation through the services of one Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. Since the nurse practitioner is not credentialed to deliver babies and there is no certified obstetrician available, the hospital cannot deliver babies.

The second tier starts after the 36th week prenatal appointment when women are referred to a higher level of care at the 121st General Hospital located at Yongsan Army Garrison in Seoul. Women will continue their OB care, including labor and delivery, at Yongsan. For the mother and baby, this is the best option because the 121st General Hospital offers full OB services. Some examples are a Women and Infant Care Unit with amenities, rooming in, pediatric services on site and an operating room, if needed. The 121st General Hospital also offers "Stork Nest" services through the Army Community Service. Stork nesting allows mothers to remain close to immediate medical care on the post while waiting for labor to start. At minimal cost, expectant mothers may choose to live in the most recently renovated rooms within two adjacent buildings. An information folder is available in the Women's Health Clinic.

During emergencies or high-risk OB care, the third tier of health care available is a referral/transfer to Ajou University Hospital, a local Korean hospital located in Suwon. Ajou is a network facility which recognizes TRICARE beneficiaries. They provide a wide range of services, including many western-trained physicians and an international health clinic with interpreters.

It is very important that when labor starts, pregnant women go directly to the 121st General Hospital where expertly trained OB doctors and nurses can provide a calm, controlled delivery. Without an OB unit or qualified OB provider, delivering in the emergency room on Osan is not the best situation for either mother or baby.

Because the 51st MDG has very limited OB capabilities, women who arrive at the Osan emergency room in active labor will beevaluated, then transferred to Ajou
University Hospital. This will result in the best outcome for mothers and their babies.

"The 51st MDG is committed to the delivery of high quality health care. Through the partnerships with the 121st General Hospital and Ajou University Hospital, beneficiaries at Osan have access to a full range of OB services, but it is our goal to ensure we provide the right level of service at the right time. Educating future parents will ensure a successful and memorable birthing experience."

If you have questions about TRICARE benefits, contact the TRICARE Service Center at 784-CARE. For more information about the Stork Nest Program, contact the Women's Health Clinic at the 51st MDG at 784-4634.